Tastes are subjective, they say (whoever they are). What movies and books have the Chicks loved that the critics hated? Read on for our picks:
Eek. My opinions may be unpopular. First, I love ridiculous movie comedies and most thrillers. I think Tommy Boy got a bad deal from critics but I’m not that wild about Elf. (I’m trying, though; each holiday season I like it better.) The Godfather (book and movie) and When Harry Met Sally? Never made it through any of them all the way through. Pulp Fiction? No thanks. Also (hands preemptively to ears) I can’t stay awake through ANY of the Jane Austen-related flicks (even ones starring Colin Firth). And I don’t care who stars in the Sherlock Holmes movies or TV shows–none of the interpretations hold a candle to Doyle’s Sherlock to me. Two for the price of one hate on both the movie and book of No Country for Old Men (though, okay, they were both effective). I also don’t care for any of the Little Women movies, which critics adore–I find them mildly creepy, for some reason. My most hated movie ever, which some critics seemed okay with? Eyes Wide Shut (mine sure were). Runner-up: Uncut Gems. But I actually liked both the book and movie of Carl Hiaasen’s Striptease (*runs to hide*).
I have to do a 180 on this. My tastes generally line up with the critics, or at least enough so that I can’t think of a movie where we had diametrically opposing views. But I can think of two movies critics loved that I hated: Jerry Maguire and Pretty Woman. The former because the protagonist doesn’t make the final, pivotal plot choice, the football player’s wife does, but Maguire gets – and takes – all the credit for it. And Pretty Woman because I saw a wide range of prostitutes in the various New York neighborhoods where I lived and there was nothing pretty about them or their lives. (I’m not the only one who didn’t love this script being turned into a romcom. It’s common knowledge the original script was much darker with a noirish ending and the screenwriter hated Garry Marshall’s take on it.) Also on a personal note, Julia Roberts’ cackling laugh is like nails on a chalkboard to me. Oh, boy. I just dissed America’s Sweetheart, who I’ve heard from people who’ve spent time with her, is a lovely person. Sorry!!!
I have this tendency to prefer the movies by certain actors or directors that are NOT the ones the critics rave about. I saw a Tweet thread this week where nearly everyone rated Pulp Fiction as Quentin Tarantino’s best film. I actually like PF, but I think Jackie Brown, which I have watched umpteen times is head and shoulders above Pulp Fiction. Pam Grier was nominated for an Oscar for the title role — and should’ve won, IMHO. And I’m definitely out of sync with the critics on The Two Jakes. I LOVED this sequel to Chinatown, which was a critic’s darling. It was hard for me to sit all the way through Chinatown. Maybe, like Bette Davis, I’m just not a huge Faye Dunaway fan, although I did really like her in The Thomas Crown Affair with Steve McQueen. (Video of Bette Davis talking about Faye Dunaway on Johnny Carson.)
Oh my goodness, I love many movies that critics pan. It can seem, at times, like it’s a genre thing. I love Rom Coms, for example. Let’s just say that the reviews and general treatment of those tend to suggest that people may be starting out with A Certain Kind of Attitude toward them. Which is strange because love + humor are two of the most wonderful things in the world.
And I can’t think of a book right now, but in my own defense, I just had my heart broken watching the first two episodes of And Just Like That…no spoilers but How Dare You, Whoever Approved That Thing That Is Making Us All Cry?!
ps: When Harry Met Sally is classic.
One word: Ishtar. I think this 1987 film, directed by Elaine May, is marvelous. Perhaps you’ll only fully appreciate the movie if you’ve tried your hand at songwriting (and back in the 1980s and ’90s I did quite a bit of that—see here), but as a showcase for what goes into penning a song, Ishtar is absolutely spot on—and hilarious. The relationship between Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty is poignant and sweet, and the late Charles Grodin is a gem as the CIA agent. But most of all, the songs (by the incomparable Paul Williams) are absolutely brilliant. I’d pay big money for a soundtrack, but it was alas yanked once the movie bombed. There’s an interesting piece about the film here.
I have an entire genre of films that I’ve titled Movies of Shame. And they live up to the reputation. Do I find myself nodding along with every turn in the Armageddon plot? Maybe. Do I secretly watch National Treasure every time it’s on (which is every time I travel)? Yes? Ish? Do I think Fletch should make AFI’s Top 100 Movies list? Absolutely. Despite what the critics say, I don’t think of them as bad movies. Perhaps just unconventionally awesome. And who couldn’t use more of that?
For movies, I LOVE “Bonnie and Clyde” but at the time it came out (1967), critics could only see what they deemed the glorification of violence. The NYT said, “It is a cheap piece of bald-faced slapstick comedy that treats the hideous depredations of that sleazy, moronic pair as though they were as full of fun and frolic as the jazz-age cutups in Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Which actually makes me laugh. I was going to tell you I stopped at a roadside attraction once to see their actual bullet-ridden car, but then I remembered, no … I had a character stop at a roadside attraction to see their actual bullet-ridden car. That research is still very fresh in my mind, even though MARSHMALLOW MAYHEM was written in 2014. (This is the bane of my husband’s existence, btw. I’m positive we did/saw/ate/traveled and have perfectly clear memories of same. But it was probably just one of my characters.)
As for books, I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but I’ll pull an Ellen and tell you one the critics loved and I loathed …. Life of Pi. Do not get me started.
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling. While NPR’s Maureen Corrigan said the novel “falls into that vast middlin’ range of fiction,” I still really enjoyed the mystery. Sure, there were some tropes, but it was a fun detecting adventure.
Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle got nominated for multiple Razzie Awards, including Worst Picture, and even won in the Worst Remake or Sequel category. Nevertheless, I fiercely enjoyed the friendship factor among the women. And the fun fight scenes!
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